Funny Games DVD|
Funny Games, directed by Michael Haneke, is a disturbing and controversial deconstruction of how violence is sensationalised in the media. It follows two young, articulate men who take a family hostage in their lakeside holiday cabin and make them play evil, violent games with one another for their entertainment - but in this sadistic game, will the family be alive or dead when it finishes?
Funny games is intense, stylish and provocative thriller that's certainly not for the squeamish!
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In this US remake of his 1997 film 'Funny Games', director Michael Haneke delivers a savage critique on the way violence is portrayed in the media. Arriving at their remote holiday cabin in the Hamptons for a quiet vacation, George (Tim Roth), his wife Ann (Naomi Watts), and their young son Georgie (Devon Gearheart), find themselves subjected to a harrowing ordeal involving mental and physical torture, when two young, psychotic killers come calling.
Average Rating for Funny Games  - 3 out of 5
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Funny Games L Still
Funny Games is a horrific film. There's no other way of putting it. It will serve as a shocking ambush on your expectations.
The film starts in a fairly bland manner; a typical American family make their way to their holiday home by the lake. They plan to play some golf with the neighbours and take their boat out onto the water. Later, two young men who've been staying with the neighbours drop by. One asks for some eggs, the other compliments the family's impressive set of golf clubs. They're polite - almost clinically so. They do nothing particularly untoward, other than being a little clumsy - breaking a few eggs and knocking a mobile phone into the sink. But if you've read so much as a synopsis for this film, you'll know that the smiles can only last so long.
And in true horror film style, the boys soon reveal themselves to be psychotic - preying on helpless families just because they can. But this is where the similarities with other horror films end. This film is not, I cannot stress enough, a horror film in the traditional sense. The sense of sheer dread that this film invokes from start to finish is unlike anything I've experienced from a film before.
The director, here creating a shot-for-shot remake of his Austrian original of the same name, turns every horror convention on its head. The killers have no particular agenda. They do what they do for the sake of entertainment. In a typical slasher movie, the victims are chosen for a reason: the killer sees something in them that is punishable. Here it's different. The two boys make it clear that they're not interested in punishing them. They're simply bored with the banality of existence. It's a game.
Later in the film, the two boys make a bet with the family: that they won't be alive in 12 hours' time. In their discussion, the ringleader breaks the fourth wall and asks us directly: who are we rooting for? It's something not typically seen, and in this context it's something quite distressing; we're no longer just observers - we're complicit. Later on, something unusual happens. We see a scene played out twice: first in the Hollywood style we would expect, and again in a style more fitting with the rest of the movie. It's not difficult to guess which one is ultimately taken forward.
Funny Games, among other things, is an unbearably tense experience. Long, lingering shots drip with uncertainty. There are long periods in the film where very little happens, and I couldn't tear my eyes away if I tried. The performances are all nothing short of excellent, with Naomi Watts' Anna taking centre stage as the believable mother plunged into the kind of situation every mother would dread. Michael Pitt, playing the stronger of the two intruders, is unnervingly convincing in his portrayal of a pleasant, polite and psychotic young man.
This film is a punishing experience; an endurance test that I expect not everybody will be able to pass. The director has made it plain that this was the intention. His agenda is pushed throughout the film's duration and in doing so, as viewers we feel manipulated and cheated. It's cruel. But as an audience, we see these types of films because we find violence entertaining. Deliberately, there is nothing entertaining about the film (nor particularly violent; the most explicit violence is kept off-screen). It's a relentless assault on movie conventions, leading to an ending that's both alarming and bleakly inevitable.
When watching the film, a number of words came to mind to describe it: harrowing, disgusting, horrific, appalling, In spite of all these criticisms, I can't deny that the film is a success. It achieves everything it sets out to, and for that reason it is difficult to ignore. This isn't a film for everyone, but I found it to be worthwhile viewing. I still can't decide whether I would want to sit through it twice, but without doubt it's an unforgettable experience.
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